Grassroots Group Empowers Students to Save Lives

On the campus of Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, it’s common to see a handful of students driving around campus on a Fatal Vision® Roadster pedal kart. Their mission is simple: They want to educate others about the dangers of mixing alcohol and driving. They are part of Proyecto FIESTA XII, a campus group that trains students to be facilitators in traffic, safety and alcohol. “We are a grassroots initiative,” says Angel Albino Robles, coordinator for the group. “Since the Puerto Rico Traffic Safety Commission began its educational campaigns in drunk driving, we’ve seen a decline. But while the statistics are improving, we can still do better.

When the student group first started, it had only basic educational materials and students who were eager to make a difference. But then Angel learned about the Fatal Vision® Alcohol Impairment Simulation Goggles, and he knew they would be a vital part of his program. He bought his first set in 2012, and every year since then he has bought another Innocorp product, including the Distract-a-Match® Game, the DIES® Distracted Driving Activity Mat, and, of course, the pedal part. “Innocorp’s products are amazing,” he says. “They help us educate in a very tangible manner.”

Over the years, Angel has learned that young people underestimate how alcohol can affect their vision and motor functions. When they put on the goggles, they see very quickly that they are unable to perform simple tasks. But perhaps even more importantly, their friends see this, as well. Angel and his student educators visit local schools to make presentations about alcohol and drugs, and every single time, students don’t want them to leave. The simulation has made an impact on them, and they want more. “We say to them, ‘We’re having a lot of fun here, but in the real world, would you drive a car like that? Would you get in a car with a person who is driving like that?’” says Angel.

Several years ago, Angel was trying to figure out how he and his student educators could make the experience of drunk driving as real as possible for people in their audience. During a brainstorming session with a student, the student suggested that he try to find a go-kart to use with the Fatal Vision® Goggles. Angel learned that Innocorp sold the pedal kart, and just like that, it was a match made in heaven.

The FIESTA students have found that the best way to get their message across is to have individual encounters with other students. So, they drive the pedal kart around campus in groups of four and invite others to try it out themselves. In every group of students, there’s always at least one person who is willing to try it. The students talk to their peers about the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration while driving in Puerto Rico, and they hand them the goggles so they can try driving the pedal kart while under the simulated influence of alcohol. “The kart works wonders attracting an audience to our safety message,” Angel says. “The minute students see it, they come over.”

Angel has also found that Innocorp products are versatile. Distract-a-Match is a simple color- and shape-matching that demonstrates the impact of distractions on reaction time and judgment. While it was created to show participants how dangerous distracted driving can be, Angel uses it along with Fatal Vision® Alcohol Impairment Simulation Goggles during high school presentations to show how alcohol can make it difficult to concentrate — especially when the driver is also distracted. He invites other students to try distracting the participant while he or she is attempting to match the colors and shapes. “It becomes this cacophony of students trying to distract the driver,” he says. “Then we ask them, ‘Would you decide to drive a car like that? Is it safe?’”

“When you attract people to a safety message through fun, it’s the perfect strategy,” Angel continues. “This is a very real experience that opens them up to receiving the message.”